1.20.2007

YOU CAN RUN WITH THE BEST
BUT CAN YOU ROLL WITH THE REST



(Best Fwends performing at Galapagos in Brooklyn)

I sat next to a man on the subway today who had obviously just escaped from a hospital. He was wearing nothing but a t-shirt, pajama pants, those little beige mini socks they give you, and a hand towel over his hairless head (keep in mind it was in the teens with wind chill today). He also had the tape/cotton balls on his arm from an IV, in case you thought I was jumping to conclusions. I was really confused as to what help if any I could offer. He looked kinda spooked, glancing around a lot and fidgeting. I thought about calling the police to help him, but then second-guessed myself that he was probably better off on his own. It did remind me of the last time I met someone who had recently "escaped" from a hospital, it was on my first trip to Detroit. I drove into Detroit having no direction or destination. So of course after sight-seeing at the abandoned office buildings downtown, I ended up wandering into a pretty damn rough neighborhood. Almost half the houses seemed to be burned out, people were wandering in the street, and there were the requisite fires in 55 gallon barrels. I drove into a pothole at one intersection, and then drove out of it at the other end of the intersection. I couldn't help but be constantly reminded of the movie Robocop. Less so because it supposedly took place in a bombed-out future Detroit, and more so because it looked like they didn't even have to change anything to film it there. Anyway, I stopped at a gas station to fuel up and use the pay phone (this was back before I could afford a cell phone). As soon as I get out a handful of people come over asking for a dollar and whatnot, I apologetically turn them down, except that one woman won't leave me alone. I eventually notice that she isn't asking for a dollar, but rather if I have a blade, "Hey mister, ya gotta blade mister?" A bit wary I respond yes (I had my leatherman on me). She then proceeds to tell me how the police had kidnapped her and put her in the hospital, but she had escaped. As she says this she rolls back her sleeve to show me the IV still inserted and taped to her arm. She had gone to a shelter and gotten some clothes (this was in January), but the shoes didn't fit well because of her bunions. She wanted me to cut the backs off of her new New Balances so they would be more like "house shoes." I figured they were her shoes, and this was what she wanted, so why not? She took off her shoes as I sat down in the lot of this gas station and proceeded to saw the backs of her shoes off. They cut pretty easily, although I did slip and cut my hand at one point. I gave them back to her as she thanked me saying how much better they were, and just as I was bidding her good luck and heading in to pre-pay she stops and asks me, "Hey mister, you got a dollar?"

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MP3:

This band is from Philly, and this cover is awesome. Best Fwends covered Hall and Oates at their show last night too. Whaddya know.

• The Method And Result - Private Eyes

A band's place in myspace.

9 comments:

  1. do you remember after one of our first dates i told you that you were quite the storyteller? you said no one had ever told you that before. I think this post is a good example of what i was talking about! wen bao wen bao sucka!

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  2. gotta love the D! was the station attendant ensconsed behind bulletproof glass with the slide-out drawer to facillitate any transactions behind customer and clerk? because that's how you know you're in a rough neighborhood.

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  3. The gas station was bullet-proof and then some. It looked like it could withstand a SCUD missle attack (remember those?).

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  4. oh the poetic irony of hipsters trading stories about the "ghetto". the comment "back before i could afford a cell phone" comes off as so insulting given the larger story. even if you are from working class cleveland where rednecks roam free with handgun permits, you'll never have even an inkling of what it is like to actually LIVE in one of those neighborhoods. as in, have NO money and NO choice, not migrate there for cheaper rent and then complain when you get fucked with. i don't mean to sound so negative, but this trend of pontificating for faux street cred that is spreading through brooklyn is quite nausiating. as someone who has lived here my whole life i just find it a bit annoying when newcomers fail to understand the impact that they have on already existing communities. i generally keep my mouth shut, but i read your posts alot and they seem to come from a genuine place, but you are romanticizing what is a huge social problem. the resentment of the natives may not be fair, but it comes from years of being shit on and pushed out of apartment after apartment to make room for young professionals and students. the cheap one bedroom you call home was probably once home to a family of four who now live somewhere in east new york or brownsville- if they are lucky. remember that "cheap" to those of us who have never actually lived in real poverty is still much more than most native renters can afford.

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  5. I fail to see how my experience helping a homeless woman in Detroit connects to the housing crisis and gentrification of Brooklyn.

    There's nothing romantic about homelessness. But there's also something to be said for not ignoring it and those it consumes.

    I don't understand how the fact that I couldn't afford a cell phone is considered insulting. I understand that the woman could not afford one either, but it was not said in a flippant manner, nor meant for comparison. Just because someone is homeless does not mean I need to be homeless as well to be worthy/allowed to talk about them; or even just about why I needed to use a pay phone for that matter.

    I cannot change who I am, where I came from, or what happens to other people in the world. However I can choose to share my experiences and risk backlash and misunderstanding. Which seems more worthwhile to me than just consuming and not putting anything back out there.

    As for your comments on the "natives" being pushed out of their neighborhoods and the subsequent resentment, that's a tricky one. A fair number of the "natives" I've met getting squeezed out in my current neighborhood have lived in this country for a shorter time than I have lived in Brooklyn. However I understand and share some of their resentment, because it is less about being old school and more about the haves VS the have-nots. Neighborhoods change, and eventually change again. What scares me is the new gentrification-on-steroids that has begun to rear it's head. The Atlantic Yards project, the re-zoning of Williamsburg, and the box store invasion of Redhook are not your run-of-the-mill yuppie invasion. Gentrification typically means an "upscaling" of a neighborhood, not the outright destruction and rebuilding of it (to make it suitable only for the wealthy, of course). You can go to Greenpoint and still see the old buildings that someone's Polish ancestors lived in decades ago, even if it's full of college kids now. But when you destroy the buildings, when you remove what was there and replace it with generic glass-n-steel modernist blobs, then you are really losing something.

    In fact you are losing Brooklyn. Just like how artists, students, blue-collar workers and those of meager means have lost Manhattan. There's no low-rent areas anymore (if you're not in public housing), and somehow enough wealthy people keep coming to facilitate the spread to Brooklyn. Go walk around Williamsburg and south Greenpoint, look at the towers going up, those buildings can fit a whole lot of people paying Manhattan prices. . . and as far as I know there's no big hole of empty buildings developing in Manhattan when those people move to Brooklyn.

    I appreciate your comment and understand some of the concerns it raises. But I'm also sorry you drew negative implications from what I wrote. It was just a story about something that happened, and really doesn't have anything to do with the gentrification problem in Brooklyn. Besides, street cred is something better suited to gangsters and undercover cops.

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  6. damn tod. i dont know how you keep that even tone when you explain yourself. just clear, calm and collected. no screaming red faced threats....

    i'm jealous. i've gotta work on that shit, or if we ever really disagree, you'll be calmly debating a corpse thats flopping on the floor from a massive aneurysm.

    way to stay zen.

    -Zipco

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  7. i agree mr. zipco (whoever you are). i re-read my comments and they came off much harsher than i intended. in any case, you made some good points sucka pants. i just get frustrated listening to many of my friends (who are transplants) complaining about rent, annoying locals, etc. when half of the families i grew up with in prospect heights are gone because buildings they had rented for years were turned over for tenants that would pay market value. and lately i have read several blogs and articles expressing the same hipster angst and i guess you got the brunt of this (i was mostly responding to the previous post about the pellet gun incident). in the end you are right- it is all about money and who has it. i just hope this vice era trend of trading stories about the ghetto passes. i know they are just stories and not meant to be patronizing, but if i had a nickel for every story i overheard involving someone getting robbed, chased, shot at and the ensuing oohs and ahhs i'd be able to buy one of those condos! poor people fuck with people they think have more money than they do. you might not be rich, but to someone hustling you might as well be a thanksgiving turkey. it doesn't make it right, it is just true. as for the atlantic yards, they will end one block away from the house i grew up in. it makes me naseous even thinking about it. it's ironic, but once they go up i might end up moving out to the country- who knows, maybe even ohio!! :) then i can complain about all the racist rednecks!

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  8. I love that Angela agrees, Tod is a calm dude.

    (Admittedly, her agreement might have been easier knowing that she has little to no idea who I am.) (lucky girl.)

    Ed Zipco
    www.chiefmag.com
    www.edzipco.com-(soon to be completely revamped)

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  9. tis nice to read a thread where folks can find some common ground.
    I appreciate the thoughtfulness in both tod and angela's comments. I was concerned with how any possible disagreement might play out.
    I found the intial post well written and would have to second the persons compliment to you tod, good story.

    to Aangela,
    wanna hear something fucked.
    When trying to figure out where to live a few years ago, I decided to move into the city again, from the Hudson Valley, cos I was finding it difficlut to "survive" in the area where I grew up. It was more affordable for me to live in the city, where I could ride my bike or take public transport, and make better wages. Rent in many rural towns and small cities upstate is comparable to Brooklyn. Gentrification and "revitalization" is not just an urban phenomenon, it spreads to the areas surrounding metropolitan areas, so not only do folks of color, and poor urban people have to deal with wealth and affluence taking over housing and commercial space.

    I blame capitalism and a market that prioritizes profit over human need. And to think I just read a comment in a NY Times article about Spanish Harlem, some dude from the SpaHa(new name for, yes, the east Harlem Neighborhood) said
    "Is it a right to live here or a privilege?” Mr. Calderon asked. “Is it a right to have an apartment facing Park Avenue? We cannot expect that we have a right to live where we want to live.”
    Well, we're all fucked and susceptible to being displaced when our basic human needs are traded like commodities.
    Fuck me, I guess I simplify things too much though.

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